"Sometimes Mike wished he had just slipped the offensive tape into a pot of boiling water, or sent it out with the trash in a white plastic drawstring bag, or spooled it out with a pencil and wadded it into a big mess."
In Testimony, best-selling author Anita Shreve examines how a single event can have a multitude of consequences.
On one fateful night, in a dorm room of a prestigious Vermont boarding school, a videotape is made...a tape showing three upperclassmen, prominent basketball stars, and one freshman girl performing a variety of sexual acts, all clearly under the influence. The incident triggers a series of questions. Why would the school's highest stars put themselves in this position? Furthermore, why was it taped? Was the girl a victim or an active and willing participant?
The tape ends up in the possession of the school's headmaster, Mike Bordwin, and his decisions with what to do with it, how to handle the situation, and who, and what, to protect have long-lasting repercussions.
Fast forward to nearly two years after the scandal that ripped apart a town, a school, and a host of families, and the wounds are re-opened when a graduate student from the University of Vermont contacts everyone involved for her study of alcohol and male behaviors in secondary schools.
The story is told through her interviews, ranging from the most marginal to the very students on the tape. This particular approach could have been confusing, given the vast number of perspectives, but it instead makes for a well-rounded telling of the tale, with each person adding details to construct the complete story. One narrator alone could not have told this story.
Along the way, it is revealed exactly how the boys ended up in the room with the girl, the events that triggered the tragic episode and the fallout that came as a result.
Shreve does a masterful job at drawing out the story, releasing details piece by piece, building intrigue as she outlines what led up to that night and its painful aftermath.
I've read everything Shreve has written, and I'm a huge fan. Her latest does not disappoint.